Hello people, how have you been this week? We've had a mini heat wave and it has been quite difficult to function - we are simply not used to it in this country and homes and hospitals are insulated for warmth. Still, even though it's sweltering in the heat of the sun, it has been the most enjoyable week. We haven't been able to travel abroad, but Mike and I have found the quaintest little café where we can sit under the shade of an awning and watch the world go by. People-watching is one of our favorite activities when we are on holiday and Europe has such a wonderful café culture - and now we have it at home, in the UK.
Hot Summer Night
I remembered a long ago trip to Marrakesh (time to go back), the colours were so vivid I can recall them as if it was only days ago, rather than twenty years. The Djema El Fnaa, the tiles, the gardens - oh, they took my breath away. I often pick up Moroccan pendants, charms and beads from a belly dancer who travels there regularly. Although she hasn't been back since the pandemic started, I had a pendant, vividly enameled in the cobalt blues and reds typical of Morocco that I picked up from her earlier on. There were even a couple of beads in my collection that matched. Teamed with slab nuggets of pale green dyed howlite, I achieved a very satisfactory result. I can imagine wearing this necklace on a hot summer night, sitting by a body of water sipping on a tall, cold drink in a floaty white dress. I do declare that my core temperature went down a couple of degrees as my imagination ran riot.
When the name came to me, I remembered a song I first heard in the late 70's from a rock opera by Meat Loaf. I loved the song then but when I hunted down the video, couldn't bear to put it on these pages - Meat Loaf is as Meat Loaf does, I'm afraid - he's not the most handsome of men (and that's being kind)! I went for a version with the lyrics written in gothic script instead.
I'm very excited as this week, we're going to have our regular annual barbeque after a break of a year for the pandemic. This year is going to be bigger and better than before and I will spend all week prepping for it. I make copious lists - of invitees, of the food, shopping lists, tasks and their delegation - you name it and I have a list for it. Making lists is half the fun of throwing a party, in my opinion. It's also the best way to tackle a mammoth task without forgetting anything, one step at a time!
That's me for this week, folks. I'll try and get a little post out next Friday, but if I can't, do keep your fingers crossed that the weather gods are kind to us. This year I've even plumped for a little marquee in case of rain, but am hoping that it will just be a precaution, not a necessity.
Catch you soon,
Hello folks, how is everyone today? The sun is shining here in the UK and we are being lulled into a false sense of happiness and security - everyone is champing at the bit to get out and about and the world, which had shrunk over the last year seems to be set to become accessible once again. Those of us who work in hospitals know enough to be fearful of this phenomenon - hordes of young, under vaccinated people are now coming into A & E with Covid, including a number of young pregnant patients. The 19th of July is going to be crunch time, when the wearing of masks is no longer compulsory, although I think a U-turn is inevitable with this one, as sadly is another lockdown.
I played with a handful of beads and tiny pieces of felt to make these earrings. Caprilicious is on the Earrings show on Facebook in August and I need a few new pairs to show. I like the juxtaposition of the icy blue crystals and the clear glass teardrops, and the contrasting coral and silvery edging. As they are made of such light elements, the earrings sit comfortably without dragging painfully on the wearer, although I include support butterfly backs with them for those with especially delicate lobes.
One of my lovely customers bought a necklace from me a number of months ago and wanted it remodeled. As I am due to see her shortly, I thought I'd better sort it out. I hadn't done anything about it for ages, I so hated the thought of cutting up what I thought was a pretty piece of jewellery. The sticking point was the focal element of the necklace, a diamante pair of butterflies that I had placed to one side of the necklace. The butterflies appeared to be flying in two separate directions and I thought it was fine - but she would have preferred them to both be flying in the same direction in a sort of butterfly marchpast.
I attempted to buy more pearls and make her a new necklace, but my vendor sent me beads that were wildly dissimilar. Eventually I cut the original piece up and made the necklace below with a bracelet to match. This one is pretty too, but not something I would have designed in a million years. Hey ho! The customer is always right, and hopefully she will wear the new necklace with pleasure. Anyway, she is such a lovely person that I find I cannot refuse her anything - well, almost anything!
There is a bracelet to match, three lines of pearls with a matching clasp, but I hadn't time to photograph it for todays blog.
The garden continues to delight me - every time I go into the conservatory to take pictures for the blog, I photograph something in the garden that catches my eye. We're getting ready for our junior doctors leaving do at the end of July - I have this barbecue every year, but had to cry off in 2020 due to the pandemic. This year, we are going to have a little marquee in case of rain and have a massive blowout.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely week and stay safe- I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, it's nice to be back - I hope you've missed me. I took a couple of weeks off to help refurbish the website - this time with the help of an IT professional from Firstep Web Design. David has consulted with me every step of the way and I think the website looks much more professional now - well, duuh! anything would have to be better than my cack handed efforts over the last 10 years, and this is a phenomenal improvement. I thought Caprilicious deserved a gift this year and brought David in. We are due to finalise the website on Friday. It helps that he lives in Rugby and is happy to drive up to see me, as well as work with me on WhatsApp video calls.
I cleaned up my work table - I can finally see a bit more than six inches of space, but now it's so tidy that I'm loth to use it - I can't win! It may appear like I've just pushed everything to the edges of the table, but trust me, after 3 hours of wiping all my tools down and putting them away, I most definitely did not. My mother wouldn't agree with my idea of tidying up, but as she's not likely to see the slattern I've become, I can stay with my slovenly ways.
For the first couple of days, I was content to play with editing photographs to David's instructions on my laptop, but soon my fingers hankered to play with beads and create something - I know I have an addictive personality, but I guess this is a nice addiction to have as long as I don't go bankrupt from buying beads at a rate that outstrips the movement of pieces of jewellery off of my website. I thought a couple of pairs of earrings wouldn't hurt - but then of course as with all things jewellery in my hands, the size of the earrings grew and their complexity increased. These are all stud earrings, backed with leather or Ultrasuede with earring backs that give them support so that they stay in place on the ear.
The donut shaped one was particularly tricky, but also extremely fun to make. The beads are iridescent and appear blue from one angle and sea green from another.
The sun came out and played ball which meant the garden exploded into action and we spent time with early pruning, weeding and deadheading, slug control and generally enjoying the greenery around us.
I made up a little pot of succulents and I'm quite enjoying them. I hope they have a long life - Mike, the houseplant murderer has been forbidden to water them on pain of death as he tends to waterlog all my plants and kill them off. I don't have any houseplants for precisely that reason. My heart sinks when well meaning folk give me gifts of houseplants as they are usually dead within a couple of weeks.
I went down to London one Friday to visit a friend who was unwell - the way to his house in Ilford by Tube was so tortuous with so many changes that I decided to take an Uber - I've never seen traffic like it! I spent an hour and ten minutes on the train each way from Nuneaton to Euston and back - the journey from Euston to Gant's Hill took two hours each way. I found out about the taxi drivers life stories, and even had time to go as far back into their ancestry as their great grandfathers, I took pictures through the window as we crawled through Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. I love kitsch, and nobody does it better than the East End of London.
That's me for today. I've enjoyed our one sided chat, but if you feel like answering me back, do feel free to leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Have a wonderful week and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello everyone, I hope you have all had a good dose of sunshine - all hell is about to break loose tomorrow and four legged friends are due to fall from the sky over the weekend.
As a few of you have spotted over the last week, there have been changes on the website - the font has changed and the pages are looking different. I have found someone to help me with the new look Caprilicious website and I'll tell you more about it when the job is finished. It will take a couple of three weeks until the overhaul is complete and I'm going to take a short break from the blog to give me time to help with the overhaul.
I thought I wouldn't have time to make anything at all during the week, but my fingers decided to go restless on me and to keep them quiet, I handed them a needle and a few beads. I decided to make a small piece of jewellery and what transpired eventually was a pair of earrings. I've never made anything like these but they were inspired by a new consignment of crystals from the Czech Republic and the absolute requirement to use at least some of them immediately - I simply couldn't wait.
I lined the earrings with scraps from a piece of leather purchased a couple of years ago to make a commissioned piece for a lady from Oxford. I will get better photographs soon - these are with my i-phone.
Perhaps they'll go with Comet? Or will it be a bit too much? There are some, like the redoubtable Mrs Apfel who would disagree with me, she loves to wear her jewellery by the kilogram. I wonder how long it takes her to put on all the jewellery she wears each day.
Iris Apfel, for those of you in the dark and are wondering what I'm on about, is an American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon. She and her husband Carl had a career in textiles, including a contract with the White House that spanned nine presidencies. After she retired, she put on a show at the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art featuring her collection of costume jewelry and styled with clothes on mannequins as she would wear it in 2005. She is a fashion icon, and signed to IMG in 2019 as a model at the age of 97.
I will leave you with the stunning image of Iris Apfel. I hope that when I grow old, I will be just as magnificently crazy.
Have a wonderful week, folks, and I'll catch you in a couple of weeks.
Hello folks, how are you today? The sun is shining, the lark is on the wing - I've never understood what that means, surely they got it wrong - a lark should be on two wings, shouldn't it?
Anyway, I digress, the lark is on the wing, heading for the sun that is shining, and the garden is beginning to smile at us once more. When my lace cap hydrangeas bloom, all's well with the world. The plant was three times it's size but had to be cut back when we needed a new fence. Mike had been training the neighbour's ivy over the fence, the idea of something for nothing being irresistible to him. After a while, it grew so unwieldy that one day on a whim, much like women when they decide to cut their hair short, he cut it all down only to find that the fence was rotten underneath. The ivy had sucked it dry and slowly replaced it with aerial roots. So, no ivy, no boundary fence, and eventually, no lace cap hydrangea. I was not best pleased.
I love the beautiful, benevolent, Goddess of Mercy. She is so graceful and gentle in the face, One of the stories surrounding Quan Yin is that she was a Buddhist who through great love and sacrifice during life, had earned the right to enter Nirvana after death. However, while standing before the Pearly Gates (the Buddhist equivalent of), she heard a cry of anguish from the earth below. She renounced her reward of bliss eternal but in its place found immortality in the hearts of the suffering.
The statue is from my garden - I saw it in the garden centre and had to have it. Fortunately my indulgent hubby agreed to bring it home, although it isn't his favourite thing to have around the house, as he's not into religious symbolism. I had to reassure him that I loved her beauty and wasn't going soft in the head.
You're welcome to read more about her in The Legend of Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy.
I continue to love the lady and pick up most things I find with her face on them - fortunately rare in the UK. If I lived in China it might be quite another story - thank goodness for that, my house is cluttered enough, as it is.
The pendant is carved from a piece of soft wood, with Chinese lettering burnt into the back. With the addition of petals of bamboo coral and Tibetan beads inlaid with coral, turquoise and lapis the necklace is bright and beautiful. The pendant came with a silken tassel and I left that on.
Take a look at these peonies - this is their third year in this pot and they are very happy here.
I'll have to call it a night now. I'm going to grab a few Zeds as I am working all weekend.
Have a wonderful weekend and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello, good people, I hope you're having a good start to the weekend, with fabulous sunshine wherever you are. The garden has kick started itself and there's loads to be done this weekend. I'm very proud of my little container of irises that I finally managed to grow. My neighbour gave us the bulbs a number of years ago, but they refused to flower for me until I dug them up and repotted them with the bulbs exposed at the top of the soil, and voila! my first crop of flowers appeared.
The Moulin Rouge is one of the first nightclubs in Paris - almost 132 years old and has been at the forefront of all cabaret acts in Paris. They have up to 60 dancers performing each day with hundreds of costume changes through the spectacular show. The can-can originated in the Moulin Rouge and it has become the most famous show in the world as the dancers of the Moulin Rouge high-kick their way to become icons of exotic glamour and legendary champagne-fuelled nights.
I've been to watch the dancers at the Moulin Rouge and the Lido in Paris, these being the most spectacular shows and though they are quite different, they are awash with music and colour. The girls remind me of flowers in their frou-frou skirts, twirling and pirouetting to a live band, and although touristy and glitzy, it is such a fun way to spend an evening (albeit expensive).
I made the pendant for this necklace in the spirit of the Moulin Rouge - exuberant, high kicking and fun. It contains three pieces of solar quartz which are cross sectional slices of a stalactite, surrounded by multi colour soutache braids. At the lower edge, the braids loop back and forth in an effort to recreate the frothy frills of the can-can skirt. A brass peacock feather and shiny crystals add to the fun and the whole piece is colourful and reminiscent of the spirit of the Can-can and just right for June which is of course, Pride month. The necklace is simple with lapis lazuli teeth, spaced with little colourful semi precious gemstone beads so that the attention is all on the pendant.
I hope pictures of the pendant bring a smile to your face and evoke joy in your heart - that's precisely the effect I'm trying to achieve here. At this point in time, we need some joy - even if it comes in a little box with a Caprilicious label on it. It will be a great little necklace to wear on holiday with a simple dress and we will soon all be going on holiday - Oh yes, we will!
That's me for this week folks. Have a fabulous week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello all, how are you this lovely Bank Holiday weekend? Warmer weather is on the way and I intend to enjoy every moment of it. I have four days to do absolutely nothing, and I intend to do just that.
It's time to do a bit of spring cleaning and check out what I have in my cupboards in terms of beads, clay supplies, tutorials and other resources. I have been picking up bits and bobs for over ten years now and I've forgotten that I even own some of the stuff in my stash. But first, I need to clear out my worktable - it is such a total mess, that I don't want to sit at it, let alone create anything. This weekend, I promise. I need to recharge the creative batteries, and while I'm doing that, some of my unused bits and bobs might just end up in the charity shops, now that they are open.
The inspiration for this bracelet came from my book on Japanese embroidery - The Art of Bead Embroidery: Japanese style, by Margaret Lee where the author follows the lines on a piece of paisley printed velvet with beads. I created the cuff bracelet using the general idea. This is the second project in this book that has inspired me, the first was Woodland Fantasy. A lot of embroidery work goes into Japanese beading, and before anyone asks me, no the beads aren't stuck on, they are sewn in one by one. The velvet was hard to find as I was looking for just the right pattern in an offcut from e bay, so that the project wouldn't be too expensive and I wouldn't be lumbered with yards of material that I might not find any use for later on. After all this was an experimental piece and I had no idea if it would work out.
It took so long to make this cuff, and it looked so hopeless at the beginning, that it almost got thrown in a dark corner on many an occasion. However, perseverance is my middle name and eventually this lovely piece hove into sight. The trick was to use one colour at a time and to sew in the straight (ish) lines first. You can see the patterned velvet in some of the photographs in the background.
It is lined with Italian leather, so soft and supple that my No 10 needle (which is extremely fine, for those who don't know) went through it like a hot knife through butter.
Caprilicious Jewellery is in a showcase on the 29th May from 830 pm to 830 pm on the 30th in The Jewellery Show, Facebook - do drop by if you fancy looking at some pretties - now that summer is on us and things are opening up, you need something to lift your spirits, right? Here's the link
and if you let me know that you saw the invitation on the blog, you can have a discount of 10%. Do be sure to let me know, though.
That's me for this week, folks. Have a lovely bank holiday weekend and an even better week. I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello, and good day to you, lovely people out there in the ether. It's nice to see you here, in a world far removed from Covid, disease and death, where only pretty things and fun jewellery exist in a surreal, parallel universe. Now that lockdown is opening up in the UK, cautiously but with a ponderous certainty, we are all praying that the public health bods have got it right, and that the government has finally paid attention to the science. I have no wish to flirt with death, or carry it home to watch as loved ones suffer.
It has taken me three weeks to cover this tapestry of a bracelet with beads and I now declare that not another bead will fit onto it. I showed you some pictures in the last couple of weeks and here are some of the most recent.
The last picture shows the piece of velvet that was encrusted with beads, carefully following the paisley lines of the design. It will probably take all of next week to convert the strip of fabric into a bracelet.
This necklace was created from the memory of past holidays - remember them? We went away in silver tin cans to warm blue seas and people-watched on beaches. The blue agate and electroplated quartz in this necklace would be perfect on holiday.
Here are some pictures from one such holiday - I invite you to people-watch with me in the warmth of the Cinque Terre, not far from Florence. The Cinque Terre, five towns, is a string of five fishing villages perched high on the Italian Riviera in the region Liguria, which until recently were linked only by mule tracks and accessible only by rail or water as cars can only reach them with great difficulty from the outside via narrow and precarious mountain roads. It comprises five villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. The coastline, the five villages, and the surrounding hillsides are all part of the Cinque Terre National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Over the centuries, people have built terraces on the rugged, steep landscape right up to the cliffs that overlook the Ligurian Sea. Our trip took us on a train from one village to the next, watching the beautiful (and not so beautiful) people sunning themselves on the rocks and diving into the azure sea to cool off. One would have to be closely related to a mountain goat to live there - climbing those steep stairs and paths would kill me off, although it was fabulous to visit for a day or two.
Blue and silver are almost made for each other, don't you think?
Anyway, that's all I have time for, folks. Have a wonderful week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello folks, thanks for joining me this week. It's been a funny old week with the Covid witch beckoning and casting her awful shadow on people I know. It is such an awful feeling of helplessness when you know people are suffering and nothing can be done about it, not least because of being so far away. I'm fortunate and very grateful that my immediate family in India are all safe and well, but not without some near misses and severe anxiety. All I can do is offer comfort to people over the phone and all week, the phone lines have been red hot.
I haven't done much with jewellery this week. Every day at work has been so busy and I've been too exhausted to rediscover new - old beads from my stash and design something with them, or to go online and find inspiration, or even discover new beads that I simply must have, as is usually my wont. My velvet bracelet got picked up a few times and I added more beads to it, a little bit at a time.
As you can see, I've finished blocking out all the yellow areas, and have gone on to red. I hope that by next week, I will have blocked out all the red and gone on to another colour. It is difficult to concentrate on anything just now and I think I will just wait and let it happen naturally. In the meantime, do have a good week, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.
Hello, and good day readers. I hope you are all keeping safe and well and out of danger. In ten days time, we will be allowed more freedom than we have had for a long time - but I think I'll take a rain check on it and wait just that bit longer before venturing out into the world. I feel a bit institutionalised and overwhelmed - to suddenly have the freedom to go to the movies or a theatre, or to meet up with friends in a pub - EEP! Just a bit too difficult to digest.
People about to be released from prison usually experience fear, anxiety, excitement, and expectation all mixed together, and I'm sure you will all recognise one or more of these emotions in yourself. I certainly do, although I've worked throughout the pandemic and gone in every day, met people and done all the things I did before Covid hit us, albeit now in a mask and visor. The only member of our household who was happy through the pandemic restrictions and will most certainly be cross when they are lifted is Wilfred - he loved having us at home, waiting on him hand and foot, at his beck and miaow!
To calm myself down I made a serene necklace of pale green, graduated amazonite, with just the right amount of brown veining running through the beads. Crystal Vaults tells me that 'amazonite beckons in captivating shades of turquoise-green, promising to soothe the spirit and calm the soul. Its energy is as powerful as the river for which it is named, and as bold as the legendary women warriors with whom it is connected, yet it tempers aggression, tames the irrational, and stills disquiet. It provides harmony and balance. As a powerful talisman of healing and prosperity, Amazonite has been used in jewelry and cut into beads since the time of the early Mesopotamian cultures.' And the write-up goes on amusingly to say, 'Hide an Amazonite in a child’s or teen’s bedroom to encourage tidiness, and keep a dish of Amazonite on the kitchen table to persuade others to assist more with chores.' Do try it and see if this tip works for you. I contrasted it with a large vintage Moroccan copper bead, set asymmetrically to one side.
All this week I've spent an hour or two every evening patiently sewing tiny beads onto a piece of printed velvet, which I will eventually turn into a bracelet.
Obviously, it's going to be a while before I finish it - I have yet to completely pick out all the yellow bits and will then fill in the rest of the colours. I hope it works out as I have envisaged, but it will definitely be a long time before it is done and dusted. I have draped the velvet over an aluminum form which is how it will be held in shape once it is completed.
I'm going to end here - it is about 230 am - we got caught up in watching a movie on Netflix and it's time I went to bed. Have a great week people, and I'll catch you next Friday, same time, same place.